Morgie's Quick and Nasty Preview Series That Noone Will Read 2019

Discussion in 'Aussie Rules Football Discussion' started by morgieb, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. morgieb MC Burridge

    Greater Western Sydney

    Starting 22

    B: Nick Haynes - Phil Davis - Heath Shaw
    HB: Zac Williams - Aidan Corr - Adam Kennedy
    C: Lachie Whitfield - Callan Ward - Josh Kelly
    HF: Tim Taranto - Harry Himmelberg - Toby Greene
    F: Matt de Boer - Jeremy Cameron - Zac Langdon
    R: Shane Mumford - Stephen Conigilo - Jacob Hopper

    Int: Matt Buntine - Adam Tomlinson - Harry Perryman - Brett Deledio
    Emg: Brent Daniels - Daniel Lloyd - Aiden Bonar - Dawson Simpson - Jackson Hately - Sam Taylor
    Inj: Jonathan Patton

    This just goes to show that nothing in the AFL will just happen, you actually have to work for it. Everyone expected there to be a dynasty matching Brisbane/Geelong/Hawthorn (and possibly eclipsing them), but three years from 2016 on and they haven't looked anywhere near as good. There are reasons for this - injuries and the loss of a lot of quality depth due to their cap, but I still feel like too many people at GWS just think that flags are guaranteed when they're really not, and only now are they realising they have to work for it.

    Quite a few people are accordingly writing them off for 2019. I can see why - they've lost three top-class players (Kelly, Lobb, Scully), one of their most promising kids (Setterfield) and another solid role player (Griffen), but I think people are missing the trees for the forest. It's still a rather talented squad.

    Just look at their midfield. They've lost some depth here and it does look a bit skinny, but in Whitfield, Ward, Kelly and Conigilo they've got 4 genuinely top-class midfielders. Out of all midfields in the comp only really Collingwood can match that. Taranto looks like he'll be a total gun too and Hopper has quite a bit of potential too. That is still a great midfield.

    And one area where they bat surprisingly deep is their defence. Their options here are fairly sound and their quality is rather good - Davis remains a very fine fullback who can shut down the best and has a solid offensive game, Haynes is a gun third tall, Williams offers the speed and class and Shaw still has smarts and skill even if he's slowed.

    Their forward line on the other hand is a bit questionable. Cameron is a star but even then he could be so much more. Greene is the best half-forward in the comp (and arguably the best small forward full stop) but has disciplinary issues and struggles to stay fit. And then there's not that much. Their pressure - which was their main Achilles heel a couple of years back - has probably improved, but it's still a side that probably needs its midfielders to score goals to kick high scores.

    The other good sign is that Leon Cameron has improved his coaching and seems to have gameplans that aren't purely "let your stars dominate". Last season for example they looked fairly ordinary early in the season but played very well in the second half of the year. If that is the new norm and the injuries stop hitting them, they're a definite smokey for the flag.

    Key Player: Jeremy Cameron. Quality player that he is, he still has underperformed a bit from what he promised a few years back and he's the main target in a forward line that doesn't have a million stars. He needs a 70-80 goal season for GWS to hit the scoreboard hard.
    Leading Goalscorer: Jeremy Cameron

    Prediction: 5th
  2. morgieb MC Burridge

    I'll push Richmond's preview up so I do it before their game starts (everyone else playing today or tomorrow I have already done their preview)


    Starting 22

    B: Dylan Grimes - David Astbury - Nick Vlaustin
    HB: Jayden Short - Alex Rance - Bachar Houli
    C: Shane Edwards - Trent Cotchin - Kane Lambert
    HF: Josh Caddy - Tom Lynch - Jack Higgins
    F: Daniel Rioli - Jack Riewoldt - Dan Butler
    R: Toby Nankervis - Dustin Martin - Dion Prestia

    Int: Kamdyn McIntosh - Shaun Grigg - Jack Graham - Jason Castagna
    Emg: Noah Balta - Maverick Weller - Brandon Ellis - Nathan Broad - Jacob Townsend - Connor Menadue

    If their 2017 season was the perfect example of a side peaking at the right time, their 2018 season was arguably the opposite. Having looked easily the best team all year, they dramatically slipped up in one crazy half in a Preliminary Final, and fell short of even the Grand Final.

    In truth, they were lagging a bit as the season wore on. And there is a feeling that they may have been worked out, something that the AFL's new rules might exaggerate. I disagree though, and think that what happened last year will spur them on to another flag.

    Just look at their on paper team. The best defence in the comp. Probably the best forward line in the comp. A very well-balanced midfield with a couple of real top-notch A-graders.

    Their defence is simply immense. It might lack the name recognition of the ATG defences of years gone by, but everyone here is a quality footballer and most bases are covered. In Rance they have a five-time All Australian who offers lots of counter-attacking impact and is more than capable of shutting down opponents too. His attacking games allows Astbury and Grimes to effectively play more obdurate roles with high effectiveness. Vlaustin is the perfect mid-sized defender, Broad is very effective at shutting down smaller men and Short and Houli offer lots of dash off half-back.

    Now to their forward line. Before 2017 it was viewed as one-dimensional and lacking in effectiveness. But a bold strategy of playing 5 smalls around Riewoldt proved a hugely effective offensive strategy and showed they can put scores on the board as well as keep sides to low ones. Does adding Lynch hurt the balance? Maybe, but equally it fixes their one problem - a lack of support for Riewoldt. Having two 60+ goal a season forwards is a huge boon and given their smalls can hit the scoreboard too they can run riot up forward.

    Are there weaknesses? Their rucks aren't ideal. Grigg as the second ruckman strategy was working fine for a while but late in 2018 the limitations of his ruckwork were eventually being found out. And the new rules will likely make him a liability. Nankervis is fine for a first ruckman but isn't all that good on the tap. Centre clearances were a problem last year but they had the gameplan and the talent to mitigate it significantly for the most part. Does the new rules make this harder? In getting Lynch they lost a lot of depth in their onball brigade so while their best 6-7 midfielders still look rather good, the talent does drop off quite hard.

    So I might be wrong in predicting another amazing season if the new rules actually do affect things significantly. I have my doubts there though, and they're still the best team in the comp for mine.

    Key Player: Dustin Martin. In the Top 5 players in the comp, and probably the biggest offensive weapon in the AFL. He is just a pure star and if he's quiet he hurts Richmond.
    Leading Goalscorer: Jack Riewoldt

    Prediction: 1st
  3. morgieb MC Burridge


    Starting 22

    B: Blake Hardwick - James Frawley - Ben Stratton
    HB: Jarman Impey - James Sicily - Ricky Henderson
    C: Isaac Smith - Liam Shiels - Tom Scully
    HF: Chad Wingard - Jack Gunston - Shaun Burgoyne
    F: Luke Breust - Jarryd Roughead - Paul Puopolo
    R: Ben McEvoy - Jaeger O'Meara - James Worpel

    Int: Daniel Howe - James Cousins - Harry Morrison - Jonathan Ceglar
    Emg: Jack Scrimshaw - David Mirra - Conor Nash - Kaiden Brand - Dylan Moore - Mitchell Lewis
    Inj: Tom Mitchell - Grant Birchall

    An interesting one. I don't think this Hawthorn side is good enough to be in flag contention and I doubt they'll drop to spoon contention. But anything in between is possible, and the opportunities are endless. It's not the strongest side in the comp by a long stretch, but the same applied last season and they still comfortably made the 8.

    There is one big difference then to now though. I don't think there's a loss in the AFL that's bigger than Tom Mitchell. He pretty much was their midfield last year, offering up mind-boggling levels of accumulation with an excellent inside game and improving skills. No-one else got close to his impact at the club (apart from O'Meara at times) and everyone has to step up.

    Despite his loss there are still a number of big names, though. True some of them look past it (Roughead, Puopolo, possibly Frawley and I think there's signs that Burgoyne might be near the end too) but even then you've still got Stratton, Sicily, Smith, Shiels, Gunston, Wingard, Breust, McEvoy and O'Meara as players who every club would love and are at their peaks. Their 25-29 age range is still rather gun for a side that has lost a lot of ATG's recently.

    One problem with these though - pretty much all of them were going flat out last season. Out of those who were at Hawthorn the only one of their stars that realistically has room to move on their 2018 is O'Meara. And even he could struggle with more attention with Mitchell out. Sicily might do better with better fitness and discipline as well I guess. Wingard is obviously a big in and he's exactly the type that would be amazing under Clarkson's mentorship but his off-season has to worry a few and he will at least take a while to emerge. Scully could go either way - we now know he will play a significant role in 2019 (when for ages it looked like he wouldn't) but will he actually be any good? His injury was very serious and for someone who relies so much on his running capacity it has to be a worry.

    This wouldn't be a problem if you had a lot of kids coming through but the consequences of being so good for so long and rebuilding on the run is that their younger players look rather weak. Sure Worpel, Cousins and Morrison look rather promising and Moore, Nash, Scrimshaw and Lewis might be surprise packets but compare it to the rest of the comp and it's pretty skinny.

    Their biggest strength probably doesn't rest with their squad though, but their coach. Clarkson probably isn't the same level of magician the media thinks he is (no man is) but there's no doubt he's been one step ahead of the rest of the comp for basically his entire coaching career. No-one knows how to get the best out of his side better than he does, and his gameplans always seem ahead of the curve. With another coach this side would probably be Bottom 6 material. With him? Every chance of surprising.

    Key Player: Jaeger O'Meara. Unlike a lot of Hawthorn's 2018 side I think there's still some potential untapped here. Plus he is now the leader of the midfield. Can he deliver?
    Leading Goalscorer: Luke Bruest

    Prediction: 10th
  4. morgieb MC Burridge


    Starting 22

    B: Neville Jetta - Steven May - Oscar McDonald
    HB: Michael Hibberd - Jake Lever - Christian Salem
    C: Nathan Jones - Clayton Oliver - James Harmes
    HF: Christian Petracca - Sam Weideman - Jake Melksham
    F: Alex Neal-Bullen - Tom McDonald - Charlie Spargo
    R: Max Gawn - Angus Brayshaw - Jack Viney

    Int: Jordan Lewis - Bayley Fritsch - Mitch Hannan - Aaron Vandenberg
    Emg: Sam Frost - Jayden Hunt - Marty Hore - Brayden Preuss - Jeff Garlett - Kade Kolodjashnij

    After so many years of direness things have finally turned around. Making the prelims is a very fine effort given they finished out of the Top 4 in the H&A season and it was their first finals series in 12 years. It's hard not to get excited.

    Looking at the squad it oozes in talent. Collingwood's midfield is probably a bit better overall but in terms of sheer ball-winning, Melbourne's midfield is unparalleled. Oliver's record as his age is freakish, Brayshaw having recovered from the concussions was outstanding last year, Viney showed just how good he is in the finals and Jones remains the key star. And if that wasn't enough, they have the best tap ruckman in the game.

    Their defence similarly look outstanding. In May and Lever they have two very good attacking KPD's, and May is excellent at stopping someone too. Jetta is the best small defender in the competition and Hibberd is a star two-way player. Salem is getting closer to being the star defensive distributor that he threatened to be too.

    And while probably lacking in big names their forward line has some gun players too. Melksham is quickly turning into one of the better half-forwards in the comp, McDonald has turned into a fantastic FF, Neal-Bullen offers the pressure and Petracca could be anything.

    There are a few problems though. Despite all their talent I think at times they're too guilty of believing it too much. Way too often they try to play like millionaires and accordingly can give up 7-8 goal quarters when the best give up 4-5 goal quarters. Now that can happen to anyone, but the point is Melbourne's ones tend to be more game-defining, and means that they can give up some easy games. Especially given their midfield, as good as it is, isn't always the most efficient in terms of quality I50 entries.

    Also they have had a bit of a tough off-season through injuries. Quite a few guys could be rusty and their injury list to start the season seems long. Weighted against that is an easy start to the season, but it could mean they have the kind of season where they should be good but nothing goes right for them (see Adelaide 2018, Richmond 2016, etc.)

    Key Player: Tom McDonald. No Jesse Hogan this year. Was still their key target last year despite this, but now he is the main man rather than relying on Hogan to give him some cover. If he struggles then Melbourne's situation becomes more precarious.
    Leading Goalscorer: Tom McDonald

    Prediction: 4th
  5. morgieb MC Burridge

    North Melbourne

    Starting 22

    B: Marley Williams - Scott Thompson - Ed Vickers-Willis
    HB: Sam Wright - Robbie Tarrant - Jasper Pittard
    C: Jared Polec - Ben Cunnington - Luke McDonald
    HF: Aaron Hall - Mason Wood - Shaun Atley
    F: Jack Ziebell - Ben Brown - Kayne Turner
    R: Todd Goldstein - Shaun Higgins - Trent Dumont

    Int: Jamie Macmillan - Dom Tyson - Ben Jacobs - Jy Simpkin
    Emg: Jed Anderson - Ben McKay - Bailey Scott - Paul Ahern - Nathan Hrovat - Luke Davies-Uniacke
    Inj: Majak Daw

    Last years surprise packets after being talked about as spoon contenders, they have improved their squad with a few impressive blue chip additions. Seems like a Top 8 certainty? I'm not so sure. Pretty much everything that could've gone right for North last year did, with most players hitting peak form and also a very small injury list. Those that did get injured have had typically horror fitness runs throughout their career....

    Even with their signings, it remains to be seen how good they actually are. Polec is a good in, but there had to have been reasons that Aaron Hall was largely ostracised by the Gold Coast. For mine he lacks consistency and defensive pressure, and I think his GC career will continue with North (i.e. show one month of promise and then go missing for the rest of the year - in saying that though North have had success with players like him in the past). Pittard is a massive butcher which North were not short of (and was a big reason as to why he was steak knives in the Polec deal) and Tyson while a good player adds little to what they don't already have.

    Overall the side still seems fairly blue-collar to me. It's not horrible by any means and it seems deeper than most sides in the comp but even the stars seem to lack true game-breaking class, which is why they bought in who they did. Their stars are pretty well-balanced throughout the lineup with Tarrant in defence, Cunnington and Higgins in the midfield and Brown up forward, so there's no massive imbalance between each line.

    One problem that I see for North is how their 2018 went. When everyone was fit and firing they were looking good, but once a couple of players dropped off and got injured they fell away quite badly. It was worse when you realise who they were - Jarrad Waite is now retired, and Ben Jacobs is out for a period we don't know about. Both losses in the back half of the season were kinda crucial.

    So what looks good? As I said it's a well-balanced side and their depth is quite good. They also play with a lot of spirit that other smaller clubs lack which helps them from dropping too far even with often under-powered lists. But I just think other sides this season look better, and I'm not convinced of their hopes this season.

    Key Player: Aaron Hall. So much talent, but very inconsistent. Under most circumstances he'd be written off but there's a bit of Higgins in that profile when he joined the Roos. Maybe Hall will flourish too. If he does, then this review might be somewhat bunk.
    Leading Goalscorer: Ben Brown

    Prediction: 13th
  6. morgieb MC Burridge

    Port Adelaide

    Starting 22

    B: Riley Bonner - Tom Clurey - Dan Houston
    HB: Ryan Burton - Tom Jonas - Darcy Byrne-Jones
    C: Steven Motlop - Ollie Wines - Justin Westhoff
    HF: Travis Boak - Jack Watts - Brad Ebert
    F: Paddy Ryder - Charlie Dixon - Robbie Grey
    R: Scott Lycett - Tom Rockliff - Sam Powell-Pepper

    Int: Hamish Hartlett - Zak Butters - Willem Drew - Connor Rozee
    Emg: Xavier Duursma - Karl Amon - Todd Marshall - Matthew Broadbent - Sam Grey - Dougal Howard

    It's hard to not look at last year and think "what a waste". I know they weren't going amazingly for ages but it still looked like a Top 8 finish. Instead they imploded dramatically on the run home. And things look worse on paper this year given that their skill was always a thing holding them back and now they've lost their two most skilled players in Wingard and Polec.

    But every year there's a surprise Top 8 appearance, and I feel that it will be Port this year. If you look at the starting 22 it still looks pretty strong. Most of the 18 are proven quality even if they've had some off seasons recently. And they have some promising young players that could play interesting bit roles this season.

    Their defence still looks rather good. Eventually with Burton coming in. It may not have the names that other sides have, but over the last two seasons it has held up very well and has proved rather hard to score against. Expect that to remain the same.

    What will be interesting to see are their scoring options. Especially if Grey has to play midfield (which he might have to given their general lack of class in this regard) and Dixon out for the first couple of months. Someone probably needs to step up there, be it Ebert, Ryder or Motlop. Indeed there might have to be a bit of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" going on here. Quite a few players could solve one problem (class in the midfield), but it may hurt another one (goals scored).

    One wildcard that might be interesting is a new assistant coaching team. St Kilda had more hype in this regard during the off-season, but Port have changed a bit as well, and if the JLT is any indication it looks like their stale and placid ball movement last season has been stopped. We'll see how well it fares in the season itself, but there's a bit of hope here.

    Overall though I feel more optimistic about them than I did during the off-season, and for that matter most people. I've probably given them the kiss of death, but they are my "surprise packet" of 2019.

    Key Player: Tom Rockliff. At his best he's good enough to be the leader of the midfield, but that hasn't been seen for a long time. Is the JLT the case of the penny dropping and us seeing a new Rockliff? Only time will tell.
    Leading Goalscorer: Robbie Grey

    Prediction: 7th
  7. morgieb MC Burridge

    St Kilda

    Starting 22

    B: Jarryn Geary - Nathan Brown - Josh Battle
    HB: Jimmy Webster - Darragh Joyce - Shane Savage
    C: Jack Sinclair - Sebastian Ross - Jack Billings
    HF: Dean Kent - Josh Bruce - Matthew Parker
    F: Jade Gresham - Paddy McCartin - Tim Membrey
    R: Billy Longer - Jack Steven - Jack Steele

    Int: Jack Newnes - Dan Hannebery - Luke Dunstan - Ben Long
    Emg: Jack Lonie - Daniel McKenzie - Callum Wilkie - Lewis Pierce - Hunter Clark - Rowan Marshall
    Inj: Jake Carlisle - Dylan Roberton

    Oh dear. Last season was utterly awful for them, and it doesn't look like getting too much better. While there are parallels between them and North 2018, North had a pretty cruisy injury run. The exact opposite looks like applying for St Kilda, with Roberton ruled out for the season, Carlisle out for most of it, Hannebery and McCartin's return date unclear and Steven (even though he is playing R1) missed several weeks of the off-season with mental health problems.

    Their defensive injuries look the most devastating. With Carlisle and Roberton their defence would at least be decent, without them I'd be surprised if their tall defensive options aren't the worst in the comp, and while their smalls aren't the worst, they aren't exactly great, either.

    And while their midfield has depth (in the starting 22 anyway), to my eyes it sorely lacks class. If Billings steps up this may change, but as it stands other than Steven and a fully fit Hannebery (which is basically non-existent at this point) the midfield feels very generic and lacks spark. Take Seb Ross. He can accumulate OK, but do you actually remember any of his 30 disposals? It's a big problem with the St Kilda side of last year, they could get the ball OK but their ball use was poor and their clearance numbers weren't great.

    I will be interested in seeing their forward line this season, however. There's some good options there and their new gameplan could make their forwards more dangerous. Parker could be a wildcard too and seems the next Liam Ryan. McCartin's future will say a lot though - there were good signs in the JLT pre-concussion, but does he actually come back? And if so will it be successful?

    Ultimately if things went right for them I could see them maybe snatching a finals spot. But as it is, things aren't going right so......

    Key Player: Jack Billings. Had a very poor 2018 but had a very good 2017. If he can get back to his best (and keep in mind he still has some untapped potential) St Kilda might surprise a few.
    Leading Goalscorer: Josh Bruce

    Prediction: 15th
  8. morgieb MC Burridge


    Starting 22

    B: Nick Smith - Heath Grundy - Dane Rampe
    HB: Jarrad McVeigh - Aliir Aliir - Jake Lloyd
    C: Zak Jones - Josh P. Kennedy - Ollie Florent
    HF: Isaac Heeney - Sam Reid - Will Hayward
    F: Callum Sinclair - Lance Franklin - Tom Papley
    R: Sam Naismith - Luke Parker - George Hewett

    Int: Lewis Melican - Callum Mills - Harry Cunningham - Daniel Menzel
    Emg: Ryan Clarke - Nick Blakey - Jordan Dawson - Ben Ronke - Jackson Thurlow - Colin O'Riordan

    Every year, it feels like Sydney is written off. Every year, they're usually wrong. But this time....I'm probably going to have to agree with our detractors. What happened post the bye last season was very ordinary, and the final loss to GWS was not good. While there is upside in our side from their 2018 form, it's hard to not argue that 13 wins was a best case scenario. Too often we were beaten heavily in I50's and scoring shots, but managed to scrape our way to victory. Obviously this could be a genuine tactic, but I don't see it working again this season, not with the new rules anyway.

    Defensively on paper Sydney still look very strong. What worries me though is the age and speed of a lot of them. There are ugly signs that it could be exposed on a regular basis, especially outside of the SCG. Longmire has to be on the ball here and not be afraid to change things up if things aren't going right.

    Our midfield looks good on paper. But there are better ones, and their raw output last season was not impressive at all. Parker wasn't at his best, neither was JPK. Heeney is still more style than substance, though this could be the season when the penny drops and he becomes a 25 disposal/1 goal a game player. Sydney do need it...

    Their forward line does have some big names. There's a lot of promise in a forward line of Franklin, Reid, Hayward, Menzel, Papley and Ronke especially. But a few of them are still somewhat raw and there's a lot of fitness problems with their older guys. Can you expect Sam Reid to play 22 games? And do we think of a gameplan that can utilise their strengths the best?

    Ultimately our hopes rest on 1. Longmire realising that the 2018 gameplan wasn't working and 2. getting the balance right between our veterans and our kids....given that our "peak age" group isn't the strongest. If he can do both, I do think we can go deep in September. If he doesn't, expect us to plummet. I'm not seeing a lot of middle ground here and a similar finish to last year, but our range is big.

    Key Player: Isaac Heeney. One of the most talented players in the comp. As promising as he seems, his output isn't that great yet. If it does get to Brownlow-levels, all the sudden Sydney's hopes look a lot better.
    Leading Goalscorer: Lance Franklin

    Prediction: 12th
  9. morgieb MC Burridge

    West Coast

    Starting 22

    B: Brad Sheppard - Tom Barrass - Tom Cole
    HB: Shannon Hurn - Jeremy McGovern - Lewis Jetta
    C: Andrew Gaff - Dom Sheed - Jack Redden
    HF: Oscar Allen - Jack Darling - Jamie Cripps
    F: Willie Rioli - Josh J. Kennedy - Liam Ryan
    R: Nic Naitanui - Elliott Yeo - Luke Shuey

    Int: Liam Duggan - Mark Hutchings - Chris Masten - Nathan Vardy
    Emg: Tom Hickey - Jack Petrucelle - Jake Waterman - Jarrod Brander - Daniel Venables - Jackson Nelson

    A surprise Premier last year, but when you look at the side they arguably shouldn't be. Nearly everything about that starting 18 is awesome. In practice it's not that simple - many guys had breakout seasons or found a new level - but it's hard to argue that it's not a good side.

    It's one of the best forward line in the competition, no doubt. Kennedy/Darling is a perfect 1-2 punch only really matched by Richmond and maybe Adelaide, and in Cripps they have a very under-rated defensive forward. Rioli and Ryan offer the X-factor and Allen could be anything. Lots to like there.

    Similarly while their midfield doesn't bat as deep as a few sides, their starting 5 with Sheed's and Redden's improvement is also amongst the best in the competition. It's very well-balanced too, and apart from maybe Gaff all have good inside-out games too.

    Indeed the key thing about West Coast is their raw skill level. In terms of using the footy no side in the comp does it better. It may not quite be at peak Hawthorn levels yet, but they waste far fewer disposals than most other sides.

    Their defence also looks very good and well-balanced. In McGovern they have (with Rance sidelined) the best key defender in the competition, and Hurn has to be close to the best small defender in the competition. Again there are few weaknesses here.

    So where could things go wrong? Obviously being the hunted has to hurt, but their gameplan seems a bit less revolutionary as the Dogs or Richmond's was, and also seems harder to counter so that won't hurt much. Their depth is a bit questionable so injuries could hurt harder than other sides, in saying that though their bottom half of their 22 seems to be stronger than most sides so there's room to improve. Overall I don't see them dropping too far, but equally I don't quite think they're good enough to be a back-to-back side.

    Key Player: Jeremy McGovern. The good thing about West Coast is that their starting 22 seems to be fairly even throughout the side so that won't hurt them too much but if there's one player that would be difficult to replace, it's McGovern. Like Rance he's the heartbeat of their defence and I don't think it'd function as effectively without him.
    Leading Goalscorer: Jack Darling

    Prediction: 3rd
  10. morgieb MC Burridge

    Western Bulldogs

    Starting 22

    B: Easton Wood - Zaine Cordy - Hayden Crozier
    HB: Matthew Suckling - Aaron Naughton - Jason Johannison
    C: Lachie Hunter - Tom Liberatore - Jackson Macrae
    HF: Billy Gowers - Josh Schache - Mitch Wallis
    F: Toby McLean - Tom Boyd - Sam Lloyd
    R: Tim English - Marcus Bontempelli - Josh Dunkley

    Int: Bailey Williams - Ed Richards - Caleb Daniel - Taylor Duryea
    Emg: Tory Dickson - Bailey Smith - Lin Jong - Jackson Trengove - Lewis Young - Bailey Dale
    Inj: Dale Morris - Liam Picken

    Well. Who predicted after 2016 that the Dogs would be looking like this, with the flag increasingly looking more flukish and the actual list in disarray. TBF most Dogs would've taken that after 62 years but it's still not a good look at all. And while the list is still young, I fear things are only getting worse than getting better. Last year was plain awful from them, and even their last month where things were looking promising they largely beat weak opposition and the Richmond game came after they locked up the Minor Premiership.

    The frustrating thing for the Dogs is that there's still clearly a lot of talent in the side. Bontempelli and Macrae are a great 1-2 punch in the midfield and the rest of their midfield has a lot of talent too. Their defence also looks reasonably promising.

    Now to what's bad. Their spine still looks rather ordinary. Naughton looks hugely promising but until Boyd gets back he'll have to play up forward which could really fuck his confidence (see Weitering, Jacob). Schache and Boyd (apart from the 2016 Grand Final *shakes fist*) have simply not lived up to their draft picks and potential and while they still have time they need to show signs of class soon. Cordy is OK as a fullback but a bit undersized and probably lacks the offensive game for modern AFL. And while English actually has shown signs of real promise he still is very raw as a ruckman. This wouldn't be a problem if they had other options but they really don't.

    And while Beveridge deserves massive credit for his first two seasons, I think he's gotten too clever since then when a more basic approach would've helped them do better. Yes injuries have hurt and yes he's lost a few guns to retirement or off-field issues (Boyd, Murphy, Stringer) but it's still disappointing. All signs suggest he hasn't really learned from 2017-18 either and is still going for a weird over-possession plan with little forward movement and inevitable disposal breakdowns.

    Their overall forward looks close to the worst in the comp. Wallis and McLean are midfielders without too much proven goalscoring impact, I've mentioned that neither of Boyd, Schache or Naughton look the answer (Schache's probably the closest but even then kicking merely 40 goals this season seems a huge stretch.....) and while Gowers was OK last season he could suffer from a massive case of second year syndrome. Lloyd is a decent in but he can't carry a forward line by himself. The Lipinski's and Greene's of the world look some way off it too. That has to be a huge concern.

    All this adds up to them I suspect having a real bludger of a season and hitting ground zero, ala St Kilda last season. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll do quite well, there's certainly the talent to do so, but for that to happen their side has to be hitting hot form now and for his gameplan to not fall to pieces.

    Key Player: Josh Schache. To be fair to Schache, his first and third seasons were actually relatively promising. But it's not enough for someone who's their most promising goalkicker. He needs a huge season for Western Bulldogs to function properly and actually develop.
    Leading Goalscorer: Josh Schache

    Prediction: 16th
  11. Mousey AJ Son

    Not the worst predictions, nothing too outrageous. Better than half the so-called experts out there. Good stuff Morgie.

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